PAWTUCKET – Standing in one of the private suites at McCoy Stadium, Larry Lucchino paused for several seconds before the PawSox principal owner/chairman finished his train of thought about David Ortiz.
Like many individuals in the Boston sports community, Lucchino was clearly shaken upon hearing that Ortiz was shot Sunday night at a bar in his native Dominican Republic. The link between the former larger-than-life slugger known as “Big Papi” and Lucchino is a special one. When Lucchino served as Red Sox president/CEO, he was one of the driving forces in bringing Ortiz to Boston prior to the 2003 season.
On Monday afternoon, Lucchino emptied his pockets when asked about a charismatic individual who clearly means a great deal to him as the facts surrounding Ortiz were still be gathered.
“By all accounts, he’s my favorite baseball player and I’ve been in the game for almost 40 years,” said Lucchino. “He and (former Red Sox ace) Pedro Martinez have the two biggest hearts of any ballplayers I’ve ever seen. They can relate to fans … so many things beyond simple baseball. The size of their hearts really distinguished them from everybody else.
“I’m not above praying for other people, but I will pray for David,” Lucchino added. “The irrationality of this world should not surprise any of this, but this surprises me.”
Lucchino received word about Ortiz’s involvement in an act of violence from PawSox president Dr. Charles Steinberg.
“You’re hoping that it’s not true,” said Steinberg, standing not too far from Lucchino on Monday.
“He’s going to be part of baseball and our lives for a long time,” said Lucchino, who hopes to connect with Ortiz’s wife Tiffany in the coming days.
Lucchino is on the board of directors of The David Ortiz Children’s Fund and has been to the Dominican Republic on several occasions.
“It’s interesting when you go down there. So many sports stars try to protect their privacy and free time,” said Lucchino. “Invariably, they’ll go to his event because of him and the cause he supports is so worthy.”
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03